Quantitative Data

pencil-laying-on-graphQuantitative data is numerical data such as statistics, proportions, or measurements.

What is Quantitative Data?

Quantitative data stands in contrast to qualitative data, which is descriptive data. Quantitiative data can be measured and analyzed, while qualitative data can only be observed and reported, and may be partially subjective. Quantitative data is often taken from a representative sample, which makes it easier to make predictions and formulate scientific hypotheses and theories.

Quantitative Data in Psychology

Psychology and others social sciences have historically heavily relied on qualitative data such as case studies. Sigmund Freud, for example, routinely drafted detailed case studies of his clients, and many of these studies served as points of reference for psychological conditions. However, in recent years, psychology has turned toward quantitative data in conjunction with qualitative data, and psychological studies commonly use elements of both.

Common examples of quantitative data in mental health include:

  • Population studies and samples to determine the prevalence of a specific condition
  • Statistical analysis of trends in mental health
  • Analysis of the frequency of certain conditions in particular families, populations, locations, and environments
  • Charting behavioral trends and patterns over a period of time in a single person, a family, or a population

Not all psychological research can use quantitative data. Conditions that are very rare often require case studies or longitudinal studies of a small population, and the trends gleaned from these studies do not necessarily apply to the larger population. Mental health professionals making diagnoses often rely on qualitative data via the self reports of patients and clients, but may try to obtain quantitative data from this qualitative data. For example, a psychiatrist might determine what percentage of the month a person spends feeling depressed or manic based on self-reporting.

References:

  1. Qualitative and quantitative data. (n.d.). AS Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.holah.co.uk/page-detail.php?slug=qualitativeandquantitativedata
  2. Quantitative psychology. (n.d.). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/research/tools/quantitative/index.aspx

Last Updated: 08-20-2015

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